The red flag on Johnny Football: Can he take a hit?

Posted Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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engel He has all but dared the Houston Texans not to draft him to play football, and in another bold move, Johnny Manziel is taking a break from the game itself.

On Sunday, Johnny won’t be throwing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where for years only the truly special prospects don’t do a thing other than eat the overrated shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s Steak House in Indianapolis.

Now Johnny Doesn’t Play Football has taken arrogance to new heights — he won’t be throwing at Texas A&M’s Pro Day.

Next up: He won’t play on PlayStation, either.

If NFL scouts and player-personnel types want to see Manziel, they can watch the DVDs of his big comeback win against Duke, that win in Alabama or Google search “Manziel Hot Girls.”

Manziel makes it impossible not to respect his unabashed arrogance and temerity — wouldn’t you love to pull some of the stunts this guy has pulled?

It helps when you have LeBron James saying “Johnny football is an unbelievable football player” before the Heat beat the Mavs at Monopoly Airlines Center on Tuesday night.

How could Manziel not believe in his own greatness at this point?

We are at the time of year when NFL prospects rise and fall based on nothing, and this time NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki is generating lots of buzz because he ripped Manziel in a scouting analysis.

This is the brilliance of the cottage industry that is the NFL Draft, and now college recruiting — no one has a clue.

Nawrocki writes of Manziel: “Suspect intangibles — not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words. Is known to party too much … Prima-donna arrogance.”

Nawrocki might know how to generate a headline or buzz with some inflammatory words based on drawing conclusions from a few stories, or pictures, but he doesn’t know. Neither do most of the scouts.

They won’t know until Johnny puts on an NFL uniform, and the people who watch immediately can tell whether a guy can play or he’s a bust. It doesn’t take long. If you think Johnny Football looks small on a college field, he will look like an extra-tiny man surrounded by the NFL’s freakazoid giants.

There is only one reason to be scared away from drafting Manziel No. 1, or at all — and it’s not his off-the-field lifestyle, which never affected his on-the-field production or ability to complete online courses.

Johnny’s height is not the concern — Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and others have been vertically challenged and won Super Bowls. Johnny is selling hard that he is Russell Wilson. He is not a tall young man, but he does have giant hands.

Johnny’s ability to play well in big games, elude the rush or make difficult throws should be as much of a question as his ability to sign autographs or land hot babes.

Can this man take the beating of an NFL football season? And what happens when he falls on his face? It will happen.

As the 2013 season wore on, Manziel wore down. He suffered shoulder and thumb injuries and, by the time he played at LSU on Nov. 23 and at Missouri a week later, he was bad.

Against big-time defenses, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes with two TDs and two picks. But he was hurt, and those were good teams.

The good quarterbacks in the NFL are the ones who don’t get hit. If he insists on running, he will soon learn the perils.

And there is no tape to show how he will fare when he fails, which will happen.

Every single football player who enters the National Football League to play football fails. One thing Johnny never did much of was fail at Texas A&M.

How will he react when he is punched in the mouth, either by his teammate, an opponent or circumstance? Ribs and bones will heal; the psyche is much more delicate.

Mulling this has to be draft-day misery for the Texans, and not too much different than 2006 — they could have selected the kid from Houston, QB Vince Young, or the big-time defensive end from the Carolinas, Mario Williams. They went with the defensive player.

Now they can have the local QB, or the big time D-end from the Carolinas, Jadeveon Clowney.

All the Texans can do is guess, and hope Johnny Football is as good as he thinks. He may be.

I just don’t think he can take a hit.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at www.star-telegram.com/sports/.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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